Shawn Liverance

Local Sports Journal

North Muskegon is still looking to play a complete game this season.

They didn’t put four good quarters together on Thursday night against Oakridge, but they did enough to pull out a 60-57 overtime win over the visiting Eagles.

“We played a good second half against Muskgon Catholic and a good first quarter against Ludington,” North Muskegon coach Jeff Cooke said. “Tonight we had a couple of bad quarters, but I am very happy we put things together in the final quarter and overtime.”

The Norsemen put together a solid final quarter and overtime session to improve to 2-0 in the West Michigan Conference and 2-2 overall.

“This is real big win going into the break,” said Cooke. “We haven’t played our best basketball yet so this win was very encouraging.”

It looked as if the Eagles would earn the road win as through three quarters Oakridge built a 41-34 lead.

NM’s fourth quarter rally began with a 3-pointer from Ben Gautraud early in the final stanza.

Another 3-pointer from Mitch Edick cut the Oakridge lead to 46-43 with 4:45 left in regulation time and NM finally took its first lead since the opening quarter when Reese McCamant hit a 3-pointer to give the Norsemen a 48-47 lead with 3:10 remaining.

Both teams missed key free throws down the stretch, but Oakridge’s Kaleb Cook converted a pair of foul shots with 50 seconds left to tie the game at 50-50.

Oakridge’s Austin Wright missed a possible game-winning shot with less than 10 seconds left and McCamant shot at the buzzer was off the mark and sent the game into overtime.

“We really didn’t get the shot we wanted on our last possession,” Oakridge coach Tracy Ruel said. “We wanted to kick it out to either wing on that final play.”

NM’s Marco Visconti and Oakridge’s Dom Greenawalt exchanged 3-pointers to open up overtime, but Ryan Gannon’s free throw put North Muskegon ahead 54-53 and they never relinquished the lead.

A tip-in bucket by Gautraud gave NM a 58-54 lead with 49 seconds left in overtime, but Oakridge was not able to capitalize on poor free throw shooting from the Norsemen down the stretch.

“We had too many costly turnovers in the final quarter,” said Ruel. “We threw the ball away a couple of times and couldn’t take advantage of their missed free throws.”

North Muskegon finished 9-of-26 from the foul stripe, but still found a way to pull out the win.

“To think we could win the game shooting free throws like we did I would have said no way,” said Cooke.

There were plenty of positives that Cooke could take away from the game, including the defensive effort.

“I thought we rebounded the ball pretty well,” said Cooke. “I also thought we played good defense especially the job Reese (McCamant) did on Wright.”

Antonio Gordon led the Norsemen with 16 points and four steals.

Gannon grabbed 10 rebounds for NM, while Gannon nabbed nine and Gautraud had eight rebounds.

Greenawalt led the Eagles with 22 points, including five 3-pointers.

Hunter Benson added 11 points and five steals for the Eagles.